An eighth grade student in Texas was repeatedly slammed to the ground by police after he refused to remove his rosary beads at a football game. Sam Houston Middle School student Jacob Herrera had been given permission to wear the beads for religious and sentimental reasons: his older brother had given Herrera the beads before his death.
The Christian Post reports police told Herrera to remove the rosary because it was a gang symbol. Herrera refused, telling the officer that he had permission to wear the beads. The officer ordered Herrera to put his arms behind his back, which the student refused. Herrera also refused other orders from the officer which led to his arrest and physical mistreatment.
The Rutherford Institute founder and attorney John Whitehead said that the police were wrong to slam Herrera into the ground for expressing his religion.
"I think it was excessive force. The school should not be allowing this to happen. He is just an eighth grader. I understand that this [could be seen as] a gang symbol, but you can't repress the symbol. It is a matter of religious freedom and is a First Amendment right. I think that they are overreacting to the gang issues, and if you have somebody wearing it legitimately, yes, they should be allowed to wear it. I think it is an important issue or we wouldn't be involved."
The Rutherford Institute has penned a letter to the school district, demanding that the dress code that represses the wearing of a rosary be changed.
Herrera’s mother, Lori Martinez said, "My son passed away two years ago, 2012, and he was teaching Jacob, you know about God and how you know, he should wear the rosary to protect him. So Jacob believes that that rosary protects him and its of his remembrance to his brother.”
Publication date: December 9, 2014